[LOTRO] A walk in Enedwaith, with farmyard animals

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So the long awaited F2P update arrived in LOTRO EU last week, and with it the new high level zone and epic book story associated with Enedwaith (a new zone to the south of Eregion).

Welcome to anyone who is trying the game for the first time. Have fun, it’s a beautifully wrought world.

This is the first new content that EU players have had in the game for over a year, so even aside from the new F2P crew, it’s not surprising that the servers have been buzzing.

One player on my kinship forum was quite dismissive of the whole affair. He said he had been playing the Cataclysm beta and doubted that Turbine would come anywhere near to Blizzard’s storytelling ability. But having played through some of the new book, I wonder if he’d actually tried it at all before coming to that conclusion.

The storyline is this: The Grey Company – all the remaining rangers of the north – are riding south to meet up with Aragorn, their leader, in Rohan. As brave adventurers who have worked with the rangers in the past, you have been invited to join their ride. And Arwen has also entrusted you with a special gift for her beloved. (Because let’s face it, by this time you are beloved with every single free people faction in Middle Earth … pretty much.)It’s a dangerous journey through the wilds. Go!

What I love about Turbine’s storytelling is that they do a much better job than Blizzard in giving you a nice variety of things to do, gameplay wise. I think the recent cultist plots and elemental invasions in WoW prove this quite nicely – they’re fun in themselves but very reminiscent of other quests or events.

Whereas in this new book, in short order I was playing through some scenes in Aragorn’s history through the eyes of several different rangers, exploring a mazelike dungeon — with extra achievement for finding lots of extra out of the way spots that weren’t required for the main plot (a fun little sop for the explorers, I thought), sneaking around another cave to snatch a key from a sleeping jailor without waking him up, and fighting off waves of wolves to keep an NPC alive.

They’ve done a particularly nice job on the solo quest instances – always a strength of the game – with good use of outdoors locations as well as indoors ones.

I do find LOTRO to be a much slower paced game than WoW, which is something to bear in mind when you are playing. If you are not in a hurry, it’s extremely chilled out.

And then there are the farmyard animals

I present to you, the wildlife of Enedwaith.

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Yes, I am fighting an evil goat at night in that last picture.